Bangkok has always been special to me. It was the first Asian city I’ve ever set my foot in and put a spell on my right from the first second onward. Not even one year of extensive travel throughout Southeast Asia could change my mind: To me, Bangkok is the most vibrant city. Nothing compares to its hustle and bustle, the breathtaking temples, the tempting smell of Thai food on the streets, the glowing neon signs and the generous smiles of the locals.
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Even though I’ve been to Bangkok five times by now, this city never fails to surprise me. There are plenty of things to do and see – so many, that first time visitors can easily loose focus and run the risk of missing out on the best bits. So, if you travel to Bangkok for the first time, are short on time and would like to enjoy a full experience of this city, a day tour is not the worst idea to cover the main parts. In fact, wandering the streets or exploring corners of a temple with a local guide can help you to really make the most out of your day.
I had already seen many sights in Bangkok, but when I was asked by Buffalo Tours to join them on for a day, I was still able to discover sides if Bangkok I had not known before. We set out to discover Rattanakosin island and all of its highlights:
1. Visit one of Bangkok’s Markets
Our day started with a pick up at my place. The tour guide Rodjana welcomed me and explained that we were on our way to Rattanakosin island to explore the local flower market. As we entered the market hall, I was struck by the colours and fragrance of the sea of flowers before me. I was handed a little flower at a stall – when I rubbed it between my fingers and took a sniff it turned out to be jasmine. Have you ever smelt fresh jasmine before? It’s enchanting.
We also got a bunch of lotus flowers for an offering at a close-by temple. Rodjana showed me how to fold the flowers to make them look ” in bloom”. Just in case you’re wondering: the ugly ones are mine 🙂
2. Discover The Grand Palace
No matter what you do and no matter if you love or hate temples, the Grand Palace is an absolute must. You just HAVE to see it – there’s so much to see that you can get lost and spend almost an entire day there.
Situated close to Chao Phraya river, this huge complex is filled with the most exquisite temple buildings, Buddha statues and wall paintings. It is one of the holiest locations in the entire country, with generations of Kings having resided there (until 1925). My personal favourites were seeing the stunning Emerald Buddha and trying out the offering ceremony: for a small donation, you can get a thin gold plate, incense sticks and a lotus flower. The gold is to be stuck on one of the Buddha statues, the incense sticks have to be lit and put into a pot filled with sand, while the lotus flower is laid at the feet of the statue.
3. Enjoy some Thai Food
After our intense morning session, it was time of lunch. I’m huge fan of street food, but once in a while a more elegant setting is a nice thing to treat yourself with! Our menu consisted of yummy spring rolls, followed by a traditional Thai curry and a Thai style seafood pasta.
4. More temples: Wat Pho
I’m pretty sure that you’ve already seen a picture of this temple once. As one of the oldest and largest temple complexes in Bangkok, it houses the world famous Reclining Buddha, a fascinating 46m long golden statue of Buddha. It’s HUGE! Another cool thing there is the coin donation for good luck – for a few Thai Bhat, you can buy a bowl of mini-coins and toss them into a row of bowls. This is said to bring good luck. Apart from the Reclining Buddha, this temple complex also offers picturesque and artfully decorated stupas and smaller temple buildings.
5. Discover Bangkok’s Street Life
It was time to hit the streets and check out an old Bangkok neighbourhood: Baan Bat. In this area, people have crafted traditional alms bowls for monks for more than 300 years. We got the chance to witness the production of these bowls. It’s an art to skilfully slab raw steel like that, as this elderly man showed us. Apart from seing this, I totally recommend to just stroll around the area: it’s a mekka for street photographers.
6. Relax with a Massage
At the end of the day, I was already pretty tired – it had been hot and we’d walked a lot! So what’s better than a foot massage to lift up your spirits? We had a booking at Pai Spa, a beautiful massage parlour located at Khao San road, where my poor feet were brought back to life again.
Back home, I just grabbed a snack around the corner and fell deep asleep. I was dead – but it had been a great day with many wonderful impressions! If you’re also interested and are looking for a Thailand tour or a guide in Bangkok, check out Buffalo tours’ website for more information.
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